True Gossip

Sally and I spent our entire ride home from Roger's, "gossiping," about the others who had been there, which except for Roger and I, had all been women, a fact not missed by Sally.

"Did you enjoy your self, Darling?"

"Yes I did. Didn't you?"

"I had a wonderful time. About the only place we ever meet other interesting and intelligent people is at Roger's. I always wish we had more time to talk to all of them. Don't you?"

"Not as much as you, Sally. I do enjoy them all, but I grow tired of talking more quickly than you. You are the only person in the world I never grow tired of talking with."

"Is that because I'm so brilliant and entertaining?"

"It's because you are so beautiful. I'd enjoy listening to you read the telephone book, so long as I could look at you while you did it."

"Oh, Dear. And I thought you loved me for my mind. I'm so disappointed."

"It is your mind, love. Don't you know that it is a woman's mind that makes her beautiful?"

"Ah,... no. I thought it was her bone structure, and muscles, and skin, the shape of her face and features, and things like that."

"Maybe when she's asleep those things matter. But sometime she has to wake up, and think, and talk. Then it doesn't matter how beautiful her bone structure and muscles make her when she's asleep. If she's stupid, and can't, or refuses, to think, she'll look and talk ugly. See that's the difference. You're always beautiful, whether you are asleep or awake—even when you're talking. Not many women are."

"Are you being serious, Mark?"

"Give me a kiss."

"Mark, you're driving."

"Some things are worth the risk. Kiss me.

" She did. We didn't have an accident, but it was shear luck.

"Did that seem serious, Sal?"

"Oh yes!" she said.

"So you weren't interested in talking to all those interesting women, then?" She added.

"We did talk to them, Sal. It was enough for me. Would you have enjoyed it more if there had been more men there."

"No. Not more, but I wouldn't have minded if there had been more men there. I enjoy the company of men.

" "More than women?" I asked.

"Yes, of course."

"Good. Glad I married a normal woman."

Sally said, "Well, we know one person who would have liked more men there."

"Oh, Margo. She said so, didn't she? What did you think of the little show she put on for Roger?" I asked.

"You know what Roger said about loving her, just like his own daughter? I think he'd forgive her anything and rather enjoyed her little defiant act."

"Isn't her defiance the reason everyone loves Margo? If you want to make Margo do something, make a rule or law against it. It's why I've always loved her, Sal."

"That certainly is the impression she makes, but I don't think she's really defiant, Mark. I think Margo just doesn't care what impression she makes because she has nothing but contempt for anyone who would judge her. She has no use for the world's values because she finds them shallow and meaningless. Her rebellion is not against the world, but the world of disappointing human beings—particularly men."

"Hmmm, you've done some thinking about his, haven't you Sweetheart?"

"Well, yes I have. Remember why I love you, Mark? I think Margo is looking for the same thing I was, but she hasn't found him yet?"

"Do you think she'll find him, Sal?"

"I do, but I think Margo has almost despaired of finding him."

"Without growing desperate, too. Just disappointed. But none of that will matter if she finds him, will it?"

"It will if she quits looking."

Sally paused obviously thinking, apparently trying to decide whether to add something else.

"Mark, I know something about Roger you do not know. Something that makes Margo's chances of finding her man more likely."

"Really!? What do you know, Darling?" "You'd know too, if you thought about it. Roger is a true romantic. He's always trying to promote romance, and he's very successful at it. He's an incorrigible match-maker, Darling. How do you think I found you?"

Oh, I thought. That's why Roger always managed to find some way to put Sally and I together whenever we were both at his place.

"I didn't know you knew Francesca Danco, or should I say "Frank." It seems such an odd handle for such a splendid woman."

"Oh yes, I know her. If it were not for her, and Roger, I never would have been able to complete some of my largest building projects. At least not without those projects costing many times more than they did.

"I did noticed your scowl when you heard Roger address her as Frank. It would be insulting for anyone whom she did not regard as a friend to use, of course, but she likes the familiarity with those she's considers worthy. She's always Frank to me, and I'm Sal to her. I'm more particular about that than she is. No one calls me Sal but Frank and you.

"She's a powerful, brilliant, and dynamic woman. All the elegance and dignity she exudes is totally genuine, but she'll giggle like a little girl with those she truly respects and loves."

"I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable addressing her as Frank, Sally.

"She loves me, Mark, so she'll let you pass, I'm sure," she teased.

"Oh, thanks! I'd really like to know more about her though, Sal. She sounds so interesting, and I really know nothing about her."

"You're going to learn all about her, Darling. She visits me every year for a week. This year she'll be visiting us, of course"

"Well, love, I'm really looking forward to that."

"By the way, Sal, did you notice my wink when I told Jo that Roger was the most generous man I knew."

"Well, I saw it, but have no idea why you winked at me."

"I could be wrong, but I know Roger. It's just a suspicion, but I think Roger probably feels he's at least partially responsible for Jo's decision not to publish her book. I really do not think he needs a research assistant. I think he offered to buy research from her to tide her over, so-to-speak, until she finds out what she really wants to do. Maybe I'm wrong, but it would be just like Roger."

"Yes it would, Mark. I didn't think of that. I think you are right."

"That Irene Dempsey is a bit mysterious isn't she? Sal."

"Oh, the, 'biker girl.' She certainly looks capable, and apparently is. I'd love to know what kind of 'errands' she does for Roger."

"I thought it was the mystery surrounding Roger that most intrigued you."

"Mystery about a man is intriguing, Darling, but a mysterious woman is usually dangerous."

"Hmmm. Dempsey, as Roger refers to her, certainly looks as though she could be dangerous, but not to the kind of people Roger collects. I don't think she'd be dangerous to us, love."

"Oh, I don't think so either, but I wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of her."

It was a very enjoyable ride home. Sally had become used to my driving, and only indulged in being chauffeured when we were not together.

We talked about other things, of course, but those are none of your business.

We would eventually find out what Dempsey did for Roger, and she would become very important to us.

—Mark Halpern